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SC rejects Andhra govt plea to defer local polls

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  • On January 8, state election commissioner N Ramesh Kumar released the schedule for elections to be held in four phases
By Utkarsh Anand, SNN, New Delhi

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 03:10 AM IST

The Supreme Court on Monday reproached the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh for its endeavour to have village panchayat elections postponed, and said that the court cannot allow “lawlessness” in a state because of an ego battle.

Clearing the decks for the local body elections in February in accordance with the poll panel’s itinerary, the top court expressed its strong displeasure at the state government’s accusations against state election commissioner N Ramesh Kumar, terming the whole episode a “sorry state of affairs.”

“Sometimes, you come up with one excuse; sometimes, you challenge appointment of an officer (Kumar). It is a political process and you are not letting a political process be completed for the last six months on one pretext or another. It is not that in this country, no election has taken place during these times. It was conducted in Bihar,” a bench headed by Justice Sanjay K Kaul, told AP government’s lawyer Mukul Rohatgi.

Even as Rohatgi said that the state government was acting in the interest of its employees and that the court could prescribe an election schedule, the bench, which also included justice Hrishikesh Roy, said that it could not ask the state election commissioner to stop functioning.

“What is this happening in the state? Your chief secretary and principal secretary don’t go. Your DGP is absent. Your employees’ associations are issuing resolutions against the election commission. We cannot allow this lawlessness. We cannot let this lawlessness continue because of your ego battles and your fights. We are not going to be a party to your ego battles,” Justice Kaul told Rohatgi.

During the hearing, senior advocates Parag Tripathi and BH Marlapally, appeared on behalf of the associations of state government officers and other employees. Senior lawyer Sajan Povayya too appeared for medical officers in the state.

The bench proceeded to dismiss the appeal by Jagan government against the high court’s order of January 21 in favour of the state election commission.

On January 8, Kumar released the schedule for elections to be held in four phases – on February 5, 9, 13 and 17. The notification was issued on January 23 and the nomination process for phase-1 was to commence on Monday. This could not take place, as the district collectors and district panchayat officers refused to start the process as there were no instructions from the Jagan government

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